Child Sexual Abuse: A Counseling Priority

 

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When an offender deliberately hurts a minor sexually, psychologically, physically, or through negligence, it is a criminal act called child abuse. This article centers on child sexual abuse, its warning signs, and why it is a priority for counselors and therapists to tackle.

Child Sexual Abuse

This is a type of child abuse that involves sexual acts with a minor. A child is not capable of giving consent to any sexual activity. When offenders engage with a minor this way, they are doing a criminal act that can yield longstanding effects on the minor for years. Sexual abuse in children does not necessarily have to involve physical contact between the minor and the offender. Other forms of child sexual abuse also comprise:

  • Fondling
  • Exposing one’s genitals to a child
  • Masturbation in front of the child or forcing the child to masturbate
  • Owning and sharing porn pictures or videos of minors
  • Intercourse
  • Sex trafficking
  • Any sexual behavior detrimental to a child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

What The Offender Looks Like

Most of the offenders are family or friends with the minor. More than 90% of the victims below the age of 18 are acquainted with the abuser. An offender is not necessarily an adult to be able to hurt the minor. He can connect with the minor, including a playmate, older sibling, teacher, caretaker, family member, or parent of another minor. Experts agree that child sexual abuse is caused by an abusive act that exploits a child’s defenselessness and is never connected to the gender of the abusive person.

Sex offenders can control their victims, so they keep mum about the abuse that took place, and they do this through various tactics. Often, the offender will take advantage of his position to cause fear to the minor. He may tell the minor that what they’re doing is usual or that both of them enjoyed it. An offender may also threaten the minor if he does not agree to participate in his plans. Ultimately, child sexual abuse does not only cause physical destruction – it is a destruction of authority and trust.

Warning Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse

It can often be daunting to identify. The abuser could be a person that you have known for some time now or someone you trust, which is why it can be even more difficult to notice. Take a look at the following significant signs.

Physical:

  • Bloody, tattered, or dirty underclothes
  • Bruises or inflamed genital area
  • Constant yeast or urinary infections
  • Itching, burning, or painful genital area
  • Abnormal sitting or walking posture

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Behavioral:

  • Phobias develop
  • Alterations in a child’s hygiene – she may not want to take a bath, or he takes a bath many times.
  • Has difficulty in school, like being absent or drops out
  • May have nightmares and wets the bed
  • Presents with signs of PTSD, anxiety, or depression
  • Leaves home
  • Self-harm
  • He has suicidal ideations, which he verbally expresses
  • Improper sexual behavior or knowledge
  • Often scared of some physical contact

Longstanding Outcomes

Studies have constantly revealed that child sexual abuse can produce deleterious effects on a child’s mental and physical health and future sexual ideas. Depending on the degree of and the number of unpleasant experiences, the abused child can manifest extensive and lifelong outcomes. Those who have gone through several traumas and got only very little parental attention and support may develop PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Their capacity to rely on others to care for them may also be endangered.

Unfortunately, when minors do not divulge sexual abuse and do not get efficient counseling, they might eventually struggle with their difficulties for a long, long time. As one child has stated, “Abuse is like a boomerang. If not dealt with, it could come back and harm you.” On the contrary, those who have found help through counseling and have support and care from parents heal and recover without existing longstanding effects.

Criteria For Selection

The criteria for choosing working interventions for the sexually abused child include:

  • The intervention must be well-written in a book or treatment manual with available counseling training.
  • The intervention was assessed for young children and teens that go through sexual assault or abuse as the primary trauma in one or several randomized clinical trials that were recorded pertinent treatment outcomes for alleviating symptoms of trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder.
  • The intervention utilizes reliable, acceptable, and developmentally correct tools to evaluate outcomes.

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a psychoeducational and evidence-based treatment regimen used for young children and teenagers affected by trauma. It is designed to decrease the prevalence of challenging sexual behaviors. CBT entails the participation of the child’s family and other support networks in the treatment and needs weekly attendance, monitoring, support, and continuing evaluation of the child’s improvement and success throughout the treatment.

 

 

Child Abuse From A Counselor’s Point Of View

 

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Counseling children who have gone through some abuse is a daunting obligation for counselors and other mental health providers. The prevalence of reported and confirmed neglect and child abuse has increased significantly since the birth of the battered child syndrome and ensuing mandated laws. The country has progressed through phases of public awareness regarding the matter. Presently, counselors have become more aware of the extensive sexual abuse in teen girls and are finding ways to increase awareness of sexual abuse in teen boys. Sudden changes concerning the subject require that counselors are updated on the signs of maltreatment, the existing laws for alleged abuse, and how kids can be best supported to overcome the impacts of this kind of negative family crisis.

Forms Of Maltreatment

A typical premise that is fundamental to many forms of maltreatment – neglect, sexual abuse, and physical abuse – is emotional pain. A physically abused child frequently feels emotionally distressed from unreliable parenting and anxiety. A sexually abused child feels a lack of supervision or affection, leaving him susceptible to the elusive advances of the offender. The child then feels worried or indifferent about the kind of life he has – one where his primary needs are not met. Similarly, a student who is reported to the counselor because he is having trouble socializing or getting good grades in school could be a victim of abuse.

Physical Abuse

This is commonly described as the deliberate perpetration of harm on a child by his guardian or caregiver. It presents as bumps, burns, wounds, scratches, or ultimately, death. It may happen through beating, biting, punching, kicking, or other kinds of violence targeted at a child. Most, if not all, parents, who abuse their kids, have been raised in environments where some abuse transpired.

Sexual Abuse

It is the adult abuse or manipulation of the usual childhood development stages by using sexual activity. Cases considered sexual activity include kissing, fondling the genitals with fingers, touching, and actual sex. In scrutinizing the structures of sexual abuse, it is vital to note that the facts and reports are quickly changing. The initial presumption was that offenders of sexual abuse were largely men. Still, experts studied women perpetrators and documented that both males and females aided offenders or abused independently – mostly those who came from unpleasant childhoods or were sexually abused themselves. For the past ten years, it has been recognized that male kids also have a higher likelihood of being victimized.

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Neglect Or Emotional Abuse

Emotional abandonment typically indicates constant unresponsiveness to a child’s need. It entails an array of behavioral patterns, from a parent who is apathetic to his child and keeps his child in the crib at all times to the crazy parent who is incapable of accepting the reality of her child’s world, or the fact that she has a child. Emotional abuse, however, denotes voluntary maltreatment or rejection of the child by his parent. Longstanding verbal abuse damages the child’s self-confidence. Using excessive punishment or restriction is also a type of emotional abuse. Emotional neglect or abuse is typically complemented by other types of mistreatment, including physical and sexual abuse.

Counseling The Abused Child

One of the basic goals of counseling the abused child is to offer a secure space and a secure relationship. The child may explore the new alterations to a more secure world and where the child’s stunted development may be modified. Counselors are not capable of fully replacing the necessary parenting connection that helps abused children develop and grow. However, they have the chance to guide the children and help them establish an honest and safe relationship with adults.

The premise of understanding the abused child is to identify during the developmental phase instead of the chronological phase. The counselor will recognize the adjustments that the child may have learned because of the abuse and teach him better methods of interacting. Children most often uncover in play the tragic events of the past years. They might also present unstable behaviors that place them at risk of added abuse.

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As per their relationships with their counselors, working with abused children needs many strategies other than listening and conversing. Utilizing structured and unstructured plays, music, or art therapy may provide children with a secure technique to express their anger, tension, anxiety, and worries. Younger kids can efficiently project how they feel about family matters when the counselor utilizes dolls and dollhouses for play. Several abused children have not tried engaging in play and acting out activities and may work well with just free play with the counselor. Reading stories, role plays, and using puppets are techniques that abused children can do.

Abused children also work efficiently when counselors deal with them in groups. Younger kids do well with playgroups, while the older ones can take advantage of activity groups and treatment-oriented groups.

 

 

 

Neglect And Child Abuse – A Family Matter

 

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Child abuse has been a prevalent and controversial issue for many years now. It is, therefore, important that we understand and try to decrease the risks of child abuse for your children and other parents’ children. One must be familiar with the warning signs of abuse.

There are an estimated three million cases of abuse in nearly 5.5 million kids reported annually. More cases recounted from the Child Protective Services included neglect, followed by sexual and then physical abuse. There is a significant overlap in children that are abused, with most of them struggling with a combination of sexual abuse, neglect, or physical abuse.

Sexual abuse is described as any sexual activity that a child didn’t consent to and could not understand. This involves acts like oral-genital contact, anal and genital intercourse, and fondling. This also includes voyeurism, exhibitionism, and pornography. Studies revealed that one out of four girls and one out of eight boys are being sexually assaulted before they reach 18.

Physical abuse happens when a child is hit, burned, kicked, or shown any force, resulting in bodily injuries. Another study reported that there are 1 out of 20 kids that have been physically assaulted once or more in their lifetime.

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Child Neglect and Abuse Risk Factors

Most of the child abuse cases happen in the family. Some of the common risk factors are parental mental health conditions like depression, domestic violence, and a history of abuse during childhood.

Child neglect and other types of maltreatment, on the other hand, are more typical in underprivileged families, teenage parents, or those that are into alcohol or drug abuse. Many children are assaulted by their caregiver or someone close to them than those abused outside of their home by some stranger. Neglect can be physical, emotional, or medical. Psychological abuse is caused by the kinds mentioned earlier of neglect. However, it can also involve verbal abuse, which undoubtedly hurts and damages a child’s emotional well-being and self-worth.

The Warning Signs

It is sometimes difficult to identify a child that has been assaulted. Children that have gone through maltreatment are often scared to confide to anyone because they anticipate that the blame will be placed on them or that nobody will believe in what they say. Often, they are timid because the abuser is someone that they know and love so much, or because they are afraid, or both.

There are no personalities or behaviors that are associated with a specific type of neglect or abuse. Below are some of the behavioral changes, and physical signs are seen in children that might have been abused or neglected.

Physical

  • Sudden weight gain or inability to gain weight
  • Any injury, such as a bruise, fracture, head injury, or burn that could not be explained
  • STD
  • Genital bleeding or pain

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Other Changes That Should Be Monitored

  • Almost always scared of something and experiencing depression and nightmares
  • Sexual attitudes that are not age-appropriate for the child
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Failure in school
  • Bed-wetting
  • Social withdrawal
  • Attempts at running away

Long-term Outcomes

Children who are neglected or abused struggle with significant mental health damage more than physical damage. Psychological and emotional assault and neglect block the child from acquiring the necessary tools to help them deal with stress and learn skills to teach them to be confident, resilient, and successful. Thus, a child who has not been treated well or has been neglected by his parents or guardians might have a range of responses and might even feel depressed or develop suicidal thoughts, withdrawal, or violent reactions.

As the child grows up, he may get into drugs or excessive alcohol, abuse other people, refuse to be disciplined, or tries to run away from home. When he becomes an adult, he might have marital and sexual problems and have depression as well.

Seeking and Finding Help

If you suspect your child is being abused, immediately find the help that he needs through your family physician or pediatrician. You may also want to visit your local child protection agency. Physicians are officially responsible for reporting suspicious cases of neglect or abuse to the state authorities. Your pediatrician can identify and treat any medical conditions, provide relevant information, or recommend a mental health professional if need be. He can also testify in court to acquire legal protection for your child and for the suspected person or perpetrator to be prosecuted.

In neglect or abuse, your child’s welfare is of utmost importance. He has to be placed somewhere safe and free from possible continuing neglect and abuse.

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Takeaway

Open communication with your children will provide the best opportunity for you to know about a problem earlier – before it worsens and blows out of proportion. Tell your child that he won’t be reprimanded if he tells you about any abuse that he is experiencing. Stress that you have to know everything so that you can keep him protected, and it is always better to confide in you as a parent. Rather than scaring him more by telling him of the dangers of the world, teach him to be strong, confident, assertive, and count on you for whatever challenges he is going through.

 

 

 

Stop Kids From Being Lazy At Home During Quarantine

It has been a couple of months since the outbreak. People are still choosing to stay at home due to the growing number of those individuals getting infected.  With that long period, perhaps you already tried everything to help your kids adjust. Maybe you managed to kill their boredom at some point.  But with extended time, surely you will be out of things to do. And kids wouldn’t want to do the same things over and over again. As a result, the children become more comfortable doing nothing. Fortunately, there are so many ways that can help you stop kids from being lazy during this home quarantine period. But before going into that, you need to consider some of the reasons kids are like that.

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Assumptions

Kids often resign themselves in a lethargic lifestyle because they believe their responsibilities are limited. Their idea of having fun is way too different from adults, so they do not tend to see themselves taking responsibilities seriously. Kids look at laziness in the wrong way. The children assume that they are incapable of handling tasks because they are not old enough to find good reasons to do it. With that, they begin to have trouble accomplishing even the littlest task you give them. To address that, you need to allow kids to have a routine and comply with the healthy habits of physically engaging in house activities. Provide them with a task that they will need to accomplish every day. Once it becomes a habit, it will help kids stick to the routine.

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Considerations

Kids typically have issues with fear, discipline, and self-control. Most of the time, their anxiety kicks in, especially on moments that they feel confused about what is going on around them. With the chaos of the global health crisis, the children think trapped yet relieved in their comfort zone. Thus, it gives them this lack of care on everything. The children begin to help themselves accept the situation by ignoring it. Though it may seem helpful at first, it takes a toll on their self-awareness. When children think that there are too many things they need not care about, they eventually lose their potential. To avoid that from happening, you need to help kids improve themselves by providing tasks that will support learning, efficiency, and productivity.

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Understanding

Kids are never born lazy. In fact, they are curious little individuals who often want to explore and learn new things. Thus, you need to understand where the kids’ laziness is coming from. At times, laziness is a byproduct of a deeper emotional and mental issue that gets ignored. Sometimes, it can be hard to notice what’s entirely going on with their heads. Usually, unique underlying problems create their unproductive and negative mindset that stems from different emotional states. Sometimes, their laziness is due to stress, fatigue, emotional and mental issues. With that, you need to help them adjust. Allow yourself to become their strength.

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Guidance

Kids will not easily understand the importance of opportunity, not even if it passes by. Most of the time, they wouldn’t care about what they might miss because kids believe they are too young to waste time on regret. Sadly, that overly confident mentality is not helping them in dealing with behavioral issues at home. To address that, you must allow kids to understand what is best for them. Make them realize that confidence does not apply to present excuses. Help children believe in their abilities to keep up with the situation. Guide them to a better understanding of their potential. Encourage them to have a better mindset that will allow self-compassion, appreciation, and love.

Medical And Non-Medical Treatment Options For ADHD

 

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The 2017 Pediatric ADHD Conference was organized to address one of the most prevalent chronic childhood illnesses in America. There have been approximately 9% of children from 3 to 17 years old that are diagnosed with ADHD, and this was one of the main concerns that were discussed during the event. Caregivers, parents, and other primary care providers of kids with ADHD were also invited to join the training and workshops held that day, which were geared towards teaching them knowledge and skills to care for these children in their communities efficiently.

Medical doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals also graced the conference. They either joined in the discussions or in the workshops. One of the most essential discussions done during the event were the common behavioral and medical therapies used to treat ADHD.

Medications For ADHD

The most common prescriptions given by physicians for ADHD are Adderall and Ritalin, although they might not be appropriate for your child, and there are other medications aside from these.

ADHD medications can help your child focus better or stay still in the shorter term. However, until today, there has been no research or study proving that they help improve relationships, school performance, or behavioral issues among children and adults with ADHD for the longer term. In the short term, on the other hand, medications won’t resolve concerns or problems completely.

In addition, there are issues about the impact of these strong drugs to children’s developing brains. Worst are the side effects of these medications – loss of appetite, insomnia, and restlessness could add to the current problems. It is a reality, then, that medications may be a tool but not a cure.

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Exercise And ADHD

Engaging in physical activity is among the most convenient and effective means to decrease ADHD symptoms. Exercise rapidly shoots up the brain’s dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels, and all of these positively impact attention and concentration. This way, medications like Adderall and Ritalin and exercise work the same way, only that exercise does not need any prescription, and it’s free from the adverse side effects.

Sleep And ADHD

Sufficient sleep can tremendously reduce and improve ADHD symptoms. Sadly, most children have difficulty sleeping at night. Often, these sleeping problems are caused by their stimulant medications, which can be alleviated or eliminated by stopping these medications. If your child must take his medications, you will need to create a regular bedtime for him and have him follow it strictly. If he is distracted by noise, turn on the fan or a sound machine. Lastly, do not let him play or engage in too much physical activity during the evenings.

 

How The Global Lockdown Is Affecting My Kids

As parents, our number one priority at this time of the pandemic is to keep our family and children safe from the Coronavirus. That is why we are very eager to remind them of the necessary things they have to do concerning proper measures, such as social distancing and frequent hand washing. But even though we are fully supportive in caring for their safety, this whole situation can still affect their emotional and mental state. Here is how this COVID-19 outbreak is upsetting my children.

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Kids Miss Being Socially Active

Understandably, it is essential to keep away from people at this time of the pandemic. Since the virus can quickly spread through close contact, it is vital to practice social distancing. With that, my kids have to stay at home. But the prolonged period of home quarantine makes them miss being socially active. It upsets them to think that it has been more than a month that they do not go to school. My kids miss their teachers and our neighbors. It hurts them more than anything, not to be with their friends. They are eager to go out and go back to the way things were. They want to play outside and spend time exploring nature again.

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Kids Get Easily Bored

Honestly, since this lockdown, I know a lot of us already tried to make a couple of lists to keep our children out from boredom. Perhaps you already tried changing the routine over and over again only to make your kids excited about home activities. But unfortunately, as every day passes by and no signs to the end of the virus, children get easily bored. That even if they once like the activities you prepared, they are now finding it a waste of time. There is this one time; my kids look so physically drained even though there is nothing much they do around the house.

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Kids Feel Depressed

At an unfortunate time like this, no one can tell us what to feel and whatnot. All of us only understand at this moment is sadness. There is an abundant feeling of loneliness and emptiness due to the situation’s uncertainties. As for my kids, they find the situation very depressing. They have these mixed emotions on whether to stay positive for survival or allow negativity to sets in. I can’t blame the kids, though. I also feel the same way. However, their emotions and mental stability are more vulnerable at this stage. That even though you encouraged them to think that everything is going to be okay, they somehow understand that it will take time for that.

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Kids Embrace Isolation

We understand the importance of home quarantine protocol. That is the only way we can flatten the curve and slow down the spread of the Coronavirus. However, the limitations we have, particularly in the number of people we have to allow in our parameter, bring us to the feeling of isolation. With that, my kids are taking social distancing and home quarantine negatively. I tried explaining that this situation is temporary, though. However, the more the restrictions from the things they can do grow, the more they feel alone. It upsets them to know that there is nothing they can contribute to addressing the situation.

Sadly, my children are now experiencing emotional and mental instability. And as a parent, I can’t stand to see them suffer in this unfortunate situation. But again, there is nothing I can do as well. I am also bound to follow strict protocols, the same as every people in the world. I just hope and pray that this could end soon.

The Effects Of Poverty On Children

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The 2017 Newark Conference continues to promote accessible and quality education for students coming from low-income families. Providing education for children living in poverty is one of the main issues global leaders are acting on. As poverty continues to cripple communities and countries, children are most often impacted directly from it.

Children do suffer a lot from poverty. Their vulnerability, physically and mentally, makes them an easy target for health concerns and social discrimination. Difficulties in finishing their studies, and meeting basic needs such as food and housing hinder their growth and development. We must act now. Here are some of the effects children face due to living in poverty at a young age: 

  • Health Risks

Children living in overcrowded housing and impoverished neighborhoods are prone to respiratory difficulties, heart ailments, hypertension, and obesity. A significant reason for the problem with childhood obesity comes from inaccessibility to healthy food for low-income families, forcing them to buy unhealthy cheap meals instead. Hunger and undernutrition can impact children’s cognitive development and motor skills. Children living in poverty are likely to be affected by mental health issues as well, and involvement with child welfare.

  • Impairing Academic Achievements

Growing up in a low-income family can hinder the academic achievements of a child. Hunger is one of the factors, as it will be hard for children to focus and learn in school while having an empty stomach. Also, their problems extend outside of the school as problems at home with their families can become stressors, further discouraging them from attending school. Few opportunities and lack of resources to finish their schooling prompt them to drop-out early on.

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  • Stigmatization And Alienation

Children living in poverty often feel insecure, excluded, and embarrassed by their friends. They are also likely to be bullied and judged for their economic condition. The experiences of children being stigmatized and alienated can damage their emotional well being and initiate a feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It can also result in children growing up with low self-esteem.

  • Safety Risks And Exposure To Violence

Living in disadvantaged neighborhoods gives children early exposure to violence and crime. The experiences and indirect displays of abuse can lead to adverse developmental outcomes. Children living in poverty-stricken communities are also at risk of being involved in juvenile justice agencies.

An Apology: Our Problematic Middle Child

It is hard to be a parent, especially if you got more children to manage.  There is no one formula that fits in raising all of them in one household.

 

We, parents, are humans, too, and we are also bound to make mistakes. We may even sometimes end up discriminating against one of our children because of many reasons such as frustrations regarding attitude and/or school performance.

 

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Continue reading An Apology: Our Problematic Middle Child

Neglecting Your Child 

As a missionary, I’ve been to different places, met different people, spent time with different families, and played with kids and listened to their stories.   

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I see it myself now, how parents care differently for their children depending on their financial status, cultures, and educational backgrounds.   According to Raquel Anderson, LMHC, “A parent is the most important person in a child’s life. It’s never too late to make changes to ensure you’re raising your child in a safe, healthy, and loving environment.”

  Continue reading Neglecting Your Child